Safe Thanksgiving Leftovers

Homemade turkey leftover sandwich with cranberry sauce

Today is your last day to use up your Thanksgiving leftovers unless you are freezing them. Here are a few safety tips to remember when using up your Thanksgiving (and any other) leftovers:

  • Leftovers should be used within 4 days if they are stored in the fridge
    • This means that for Thanksgiving leftovers, if your food hasn’t been eaten or frozen before the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, then it needs to be thrown away.
  • Reheat your food to 165 degrees Fahrenheit
    • Just because your food was cooked to 165 degrees once, doesn’t mean it won’t become contaminated again. You should always reheat food back up to 165 degrees to make sure any bacteria that has come in contact with that food gets destroyed.
  • Most leftovers (including turkey) are good frozen for about 4 months
    • Frozen food will be safe for years, as long as it stays frozen. But the quality (taste, texture, and nutrition) of that food will start to get a lot worse after about 4 months. A good freezer bag or airtight container will help extend this time frame.
  • Thaw frozen leftovers in a safe manner
    • Don’t leave food out on a counter to thaw, even thawing in a crock-pot is not safe because it doesn’t heat up the food fast enough. Instead thaw your food the day before in the fridge. If you are in a hurry then you can use the microwave, although that does decrease the quality of your food

Woman in the kitchen in front of the refrigerator

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving, and are continuing to enjoy their Thanksgiving leftovers in a safe way!

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